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How We Think of Human Suffering

How We Think of Human Suffering

Generally speaking, people have one of three psychological structures. Each of these psychological structures is a subjective response to what it means to be human. Therefore, they do not reference moral positions nor is one "better" or "worse" than the others. In fact, each of them produces its own kind of suffering.

neurotic psychological structure


In this structure, subjective experience is bound to and constrained by social law or normativity. Therefore, personal decisions overly reference social conventions, rules and expectations. Since one believes that there is a clear response path to life's questions, the type of suffering usually associated with this the overly normative structure is undue guilt, anxiety and concerns about doing the right thing.

psychotic psychological structure


The non-conventional experience is birthed from a person's attempt to anchor himself or herself within a structure that has little to no reference to what most others call "normativity" or "conventionality." Contrary to popular belief, this so-called non-conformity is not choiceful. While the person is aware of guiding social constraints and laws — often acutely so — these conventions are experienced as arbitrary and often times self-serving. Therefore, non-normative individuals experience their existence within society as precarious as they struggle to constantly create some place of refuge within this uncertainty. The types of suffering usually associated with this the structure include more severe and chronic forms of mental illness. 

perverse psychological structure


Within this structure, the person references social conventions or so-called conventionality, but is not constrained or guided by it. Therefore, while s/he may have the semblance of normativity they disavow conventional limits. This means that they often times set themselves up as the exception to the rule.  The types of suffering usually associated with this structure include substance abuse and addiction, addiction related disorders, criminal entanglement, and harmful sexual practices. 


How We Think About What We Do

Language structures our very existence. Imagine trying to convey to someone your subjective experience of hunger without any of the words, forms of speech, or euphemisms related to the concept of hunger. Now, imagine that your difficulty communicating your hunger is not solely due to the fact that you do not have access to the words for hunger but that you have no concept of hunger!

In other words, you would experience hunger, but would have no way of knowing what this bodily sensation was or meant. Under these circumstances, we might expect that you would experience this sensation as completely foreign, alien, strange and even terrifying. You might even create an explanation to account for your experience, but it would be an explanation devoid of any reference to "hunger" in the conventional sense. Possible explanations might be, “My stomach is disintegrating,” or “I've been poisoned,” or "I'm possessed."

Clinical experience suggests that this is exactly what happens at the origin of many chronic and severe forms mental illness. That a fundamental concept necessary for life's successful navigation is excluded from the person's subjective psychology, which leaves them catastrophically unmoored.

In order to restore a subjective sense of existential grounding, our highly specialized clinicians aid each patient in engaging, inhabiting, and developing a distinct discourse that allows them to supplement this all important concept that was once foreclosed from their minds. Our clinical goal is to help individuals supplement what is fundamentally missing in their subjectivity so that they may construct a life of their choosing.

How we think

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